Charges: Little Canada man accused of killing sex worker at Eagan hotel

A 25-year-old Little Canada man is facing murder charges after a woman was found dead inside an Eagan hotel room earlier this month.

Police responded shortly before midnight on Oct. 12 for the report of an unresponsive woman in the hotel room. Staff had checked on the woman at the request of a concerned friend. Police did not identify the hotel involved.

The victim, 53-year-old Jianqin Zhang, was found face down, hanging over one side of a bed and cold to the touch. She was pronounced dead at the hotel by first responders.

An autopsy later found injuries to the victim's face and neck. A toxicology report found no controlled substances in the victim's system, police said.

The concerned friend said that Zhang was a sex worker, the criminal complaint states. Zhang had booked the hotel room for 15 nights between Sept. 30 and Oct. 14. But the friend said she had been asked to check on Zhang by the "organization" that Zhang worked for.

According to the charges, a member from that "organization" shared information on the visit. They said the client that Zhang met showed up around 3 p.m. on Oct. 12. At 3:39 p.m., a message from Zhang's phone said the client had left the hotel. However, the organization was unable to get in contact with Zhang for the rest of the day.

At around 4:30 p.m., police say a housekeeper entered the room to empty garbage cans but left in a hurry after seeing the victim in bed – in the same position she was later found in – but apparently not realizing that Zhang had been harmed.

The concerned friend was able to pass along a phone number for the client to officers. In the charges, police said they were able to connect that phone number to the suspect, Philip Wong.

According to police, surveillance video shows Wong showing up at the hotel around 2:54 p.m. and leaving around 3:48 p.m.

Speaking with police, the charges state that Wong admitted to going to the hotel for a "massage and cuddle" after responding to an online advertisement. Police say Wong admitted to paying $200 at the hotel and later paying an additional $50 for sex. He claimed to have showered and left without incident. According to the charges, he said he learned that the victim had died after getting called by the "organization" later that night – but said he thought he was being lied to as part of an attempted scam.

However, a friend of Wong's went to police days later, saying Wong had told her that he had "choked out" Zhang after Zhang had tried to blackmail him, allegedly claiming she had a hidden camera in the hotel room. In a follow-up interview with police, Wong denied that version of events.

Wong was charged Monday with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. He is currently being held in the Dakota County Jail.